Caramel

A comedy-drama about five women with an unconventional love life in a beauty parlour in Beirut. A love letter to a beleaguered city. Director Nadine Labaki is among a refreshing new generation of Arab female filmmakers.

The caramel from the title is not for consumption. It is used for sugar waxing and is part of a range of products in a beauty parlour in Beirut. One of the beauticians (played by author/director Nadine Labaki herself) is bowled over by the wife of her boyfriend.

Rima has to hide her lesbian feelings from the outside world. Nisrine does not want her intended husband to find out she is no longer a virgin, while actress Jamale has to face up to the fact that she has reached a certain age. Rose’s mature love is at odds with the responsibility she carries for her elder sister who is suffering from Alzheimer’s.

The clash between the several cultures, between tradition and mild rebellion, is not only deftly woven into the storylines, it is also aptly visualized. Labaki did not want to make an overtly political film, but wrote a love letter to a beleaguered  city: ‘For my Beirut’, as we read in the credits. Caramel won three prizes at the San Sebastian film festival.